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Multitasking Garbage Trucks in Massachusetts Collect Useful Data

In Cambridge, Mass., there are five garbage trucks that can measure and collect data for a variety of variables like air pollution, traffic status and infrastructure decay.

City Scanner, an initiative developed by MIT’s Senseable City Lab that finds ways to better understand modern cities, takes single-purpose garbage trucks and transforms them into multitasking, data-gathering trucks.

In Cambridge, Mass., there are five garbage trucks that can measure and collect data for a variety of variables like air pollution, traffic status and infrastructure decay, which can later be used to implement start city initiatives.

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The idea of using garbage trucks to gather information came out of MIT’s Senseable City Lab, an initiative that is all about finding ways to better understand modern cities. This program, called City Scanner, takes the humble, single purpose garbage truck and turns it into a multitasking, information-gathering hub.

Usually, garbage trucks rumble round the city streets doing a simple job – providing and transporting collected trash. But there are five trucks in Cambridge, Massachusetts that can measure a number of variables including air pollution, traffic status and infrastructure decay. Examples of situations the system has identified include energy leaks in buildings and potholes that need to be filled.

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